When Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said on stage in London days before the Iraq War began in 2003 that she was ashamed to be from the same state as President Bush, it caused a firestorm of protest among country music fans. But among the liberal media, they became the hottest property going. Their tour continued, they were naked on the cover of Entertainment Weekly to mark the protest and starred in a Lipton Iced Tea commercial spinning off the controversy.
When their next CD came out in 2006, CBS’s 60 Minutes hailed them and their new album. Time put them on the cover and called them women “with the biggest balls In American music.” On Thursday’s All Things Considered, anchor Melissa Block told a much different tale – that they were “effectively blacklisted,” which drove Maines to take time off:
MELISSA BLOCK: But then came the collapse, after what the Chicks call the incident. It was 2003, just before the Iraq War. And on stage in London, Natalie Maines said the Dixie Chicks were ashamed to be from the same state as then-President George W. Bush. In a flash, country radio turned on them. They were effectively blacklisted. Angry fans smashed their CDs.
Later, they had to cancel concert dates when tickets didn't sell. Natalie Maines decided to take time off from recording to be with her husband and two young sons.
Maines soon apologized for the insult, and President Bush took no offense and said it was a free country (unlike Saddam's Iraq). Now Maines has a new solo CD that’s not country music, and looking back, she displayed a real cluelessness about country music fans in the interview:
BLOCK: Did it always feel like an uneasy place to be for you?
MAINES: Not in the band, but maybe in the industry. I mean, I had preconceptions about what country music or what country music fans were like. Really, politics never even became an issue until I made the comment. So it just really wasn't on my mind that I had to, you know, relate to everyone in my field on a political level. They explained that to me later, I guess. I didn't get that manual. (Laughter)
BLOCK: They didn't hand that out in country music school?
MAINES: No, no.
The media wanted to paint the controversy only about hating war – because that doesn’t sound as oafish as saying you’re ashamed to be from Texas like that guy Bush.